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Tue, 22 May 2018
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Cloud Precipitation

Atlantic Hurricane season ends above normal in count says NOAA scientists

As the Atlantic, eastern Pacific and central Pacific 2016 hurricane seasons end today, NOAA scientists said that all three regions saw above-normal seasons.

For the Atlantic, this was the first above-normal season since 2012. The Atlantic saw 15 named storms during 2016, including 7 hurricanes (Alex, Earl, Gaston, Hermine, Matthew, Nicole, and Otto), 3 of which were major hurricanes (Gaston, Matthew and Nicole). NOAA's updated hurricane season outlook in August called for 12 to 17 named storms, including 5 to 8 hurricanes, with 2 to 4 of those predicted to become major hurricanes.

Five named storms made landfall in the United States during 2016, the most since 2008 when six storms struck. Tropical Storm Bonnie and Hurricane Matthew struck South Carolina. Tropical Storms Colin and Julia, as well as Hurricane Hermine, made landfall in Florida. Hermine was the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Wilma in 2005.


As drought takes over Colorado, Denver nears record snowless streak

Colorado drought map

U.S. Drought Monitor Report released Thursday.
Colorado has been fully taken over by drought. And for the metro area, things are moving into a historic snowless territory.

The drought has dramatically expanded recently. Thursday's drought monitor indicates that more than 98 percent of the state is in a drought, up from only 10 percent at the start of the year.

For most, a dry weather pattern took over in midsummer when the rains ended.

And little snow has materialized. The mountains have had barely 5 to 10 inches across most of the ranges. Denver has yet to see its first snow.

In Denver, the last snow was May 1. The number of days without snowfall is at 193 as of Thursday, the eighth-longest streak since 1948.

In 1992, Denver went 211 days without snow and 2016 might rival that record.

The latest measurable snowfall in Denver was Nov. 21, 1934 and that record might fall this year unless the persistent warm, dry weather pattern breaks down soon.


Powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake strikes near Christchurch, New Zealand

Magnitude 7.4 6.6 earthquake strikes in Amberley near Christchurch, New Zealand
Powerful M6.6 earthquake strikes Amberley, New Zealand
A powerful earthquake has hit northeast of Christchurch, a city in New Zealand, according to the US Geological Survey.

Twitter reports from locals talk of "enormous" shaking felt in Wellington and Cheviot.

The quake was centered 46km from the town of Amberley with about 2,000 people, and 70km from the town of Kaiapoi with 10,000 residents, according to the USGS. The tremor had a shallow depth of 5 km.

Comment: Spaceweather.com reports:

Minor geomagnetic storms and Arctic auroras are likely on Nov. 13th as Earth moves through a stream of high-speed solar wind. Visibility of auroras will be muted somewhat by the glare of the waxing supermoon.

Arrow Down

China's largest freshwater lake drying up

Dried up Poyang Lake

Dried up Poyang Lake
Officials blame reduced rainfall, low level of Yangtze and human activities for lake drying out almost two months before low-water period

Parts of China's largest freshwater lake have dried up, with a huge patch of grassland where there once was water after the level fell continuously since September.

The water level of Poyang Lake in eastern Jiangxi province as measured by the Xingzi hydrological station had dropped to 10.6 metres on Thursday. The lake entered its low-water period of less than 12 metres on September 19, 54 days earlier than usual, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The report said tourists could now walk on the former lakebed in Duchang county and view flowering aubergine plants, as if they were wandering through fields.

Pictures show well-known Luoxingdun island in Lushan, a city that neighbours Duchang, high and dry and surrounded by grass. The island that used to be in the middle of the lake is currently regarded as a scale of the water level's ups and downs, rather than a navigation mark and lighthouse as in the past.

Cow Skull

Zimbabwe battles worst drought in 25 years

Zimbabwe drought
© REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo
Villagers collect water from a dry river bed in drought hit Masvingo, Zimbabwe, June 2, 2016.
ZIMBABWE is currently battling its worst drought in 25 years after consecutive dry spells due to the El Nino weather phenomenon which has affected most parts of the Southern Africa region, government has said.

El Niño is a climate cycle in the Pacific Ocean with a global impact on weather patterns. El Niño-caused drought can be widespread, affecting southern Africa, India, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Pacific Islands and the Canadian prairies

Environment, Water and Climate Minister Oppah Muchinguri said El Nino resulted in below normal rainfall during the 2015/16 farming season.

Addressing journalists in the capital last Friday, Muchinguri said national dam levels are now around 41.9 percent, which is well below the normal average of 62.3 percent for this time of the year.

Dams in Masvingo are the worst affected, with most just 21 percent full.

Muchinguri said her ministry would soon approach President Robert Mugabe with a view to declaring the country a water shortage area.

Bizarro Earth

Utah's Great Salt Lake is shrinking at an alarming rate

Great Salt Lake
© NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens
Acquired September 24, 2011.
The Great Salt Lake is drying up and shrinking. Both nature and man have a hand in the change.

The Great Salt Lake is largest water body in the United States after the Great Lakes. It is a terminal basin, which means the water that pours into the lake from rivers and streams has no outlet other than evaporation. This allows salts and minerals to concentrate in the lake such that it is three to five times saltier than the ocean. And yet this briny lake is a haven for more than 250 species of migratory birds who feast on the brine shrimp and flies that thrive there.

But now the millions of birds and shrimp—and the people who harvest the shrimp and extract salts and recreational fun from the lake—are faced with a problem. For more than 150 years, humans have been taking more water out of the Salt Lake watershed than is flowing into it. They are now diverting about 40 percent of the river water (which would normally fill the lake) and using it for farming, industry, and human consumption. In October 2016, the Great Salt Lake reached its lowest recorded level: 1277.5 meters (4,191.2 feet), averaged between the lake's north and south arms.

Five years of drought in the American West have contributed to the recent drop in the water line, as have higher-than-normal temperatures. But the region has seen dry cycles before, and according to scientists, there has not been a significant long-term change in precipitation in the basin. Nonetheless, the volume of water in Great Salt Lake has shrunk by 48 percent and the lake level has fallen 3.4 meters (11 feet) since 1847.

These two Landsat satellite images show recent changes in the Farmington Bay basin of Great Salt Lake. The Thematic Mapper on Landsat 5 acquired the first image (above) on September 11, 2011; the second image (below) was captured by the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 on September 20, 2016. According to scientists' estimates, more than three-quarters of the lake bed is now exposed in Farmington Bay. Salt Lake City (lower right) and its northern suburbs stretch around the east side of the lake.


Winter drought forecast for much of United States

US drought map oct 2016
© U.S. Drought Monitor
Drought conditions across the contiguous U.S. as of Oct. 18, 2016.
While the weather catchphrase of recent winters was the shiver-inducing polar vortex, the buzzword for this winter in the U.S. will be drought.

Significant droughts are already in place over nearly 45 percent of the contiguous U.S., with hotspots in California — where the drought is in its sixth year — the Southeast and Northeast. With the renewed possibility of a La Niña emerging in the next couple months, little improvement is expected in most areas; the drought in the Southeast is expected to expand and drought could also emerge in the Southern Plains, according to the most recent seasonal forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"The winter forecast doesn't bode well for [California] and many other areas around the nation currently experiencing drought," Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, said during a press teleconference.

La Niña is the opposite end of the natural climate seesaw from El Niño; it is characterized by cooler-than-normal ocean waters in the tropical Pacific, while El Niño features warmer-than-normal.

After an exceptionally strong El Niño, conditions in that area of the Pacific have cooled, moving into neutral territory and now "hovering near the La Niña threshold," Halpert said.


More than 100,000 acres destroyed in Alabama by 900-plus wildfires since October 1

Officials say more than 900 wildfires have destroyed over 100,000 acres across the state this month amid an ongoing drought that has no signs of ending anytime soon.

Interim State Forester Gary Cole said in a statement Monday that extremely dry conditions have created favorable environments for wildfires during the past several weeks.

"The drought creates a dangerous scenario where wildfire can quickly spread out of control, destroying forestland and threatening homes," Cole said.

Gov. Robert Bentley on Oct. 12 signed a drought emergency declaration, putting 46 counties under the no burn order.

Cole says that order will remain in effect until weather conditions have significantly improved. Citing a 10-day forecast of low potential for rainfall, Cole says there is "no relief in sight."

Violators of the burn ban could face a fine of up to $500 and up to six months in jail if convicted.

Source: Associated Press

Arrow Up

Charity calls on DiCaprio to step down from UN climate change role

© Olivier Marteau on Twitter
A rainforest charity calls on the star to either denounce his connection to individuals involved in a Malaysian corruption scandal and return laundered money he allegedly received or give up his role.

In perhaps the biggest attack on Leonardo DiCaprio's environmental credibility, a rainforest charity on Friday called on the actor to give up his title as UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change.

At a press conference in London, the Bruno Manser Funds offered DiCaprio an ultimatum: either he renounce his connections to the "politically exposed persons" at the center of the multi-billion dollar 1MDB Malaysian corruption scandal now being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department and return corrupt money he allegedly received or resign from the position he was given by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in 2014.

"If DiCaprio is unwilling to come clean, we ask him to step down as UN Messenger for Peace for climate change, because he simply lacks the credibility for such an important role," said Lukas Straumann, director of the Switzerland-based charity, which has a particular focus on deforestation in Malaysia.

DiCaprio is alleged to have received millions of dollars diverted from the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund for his role as star and producer of The Wolf of Wall Street, alleged by the DOJ to have been funded by stolen Malaysian money and produced by Red Granite, co-founded by Riza Aziz, the stepson of the Malaysian prime minister and a major figure in a DOJ filing. He is also alleged to have received laundered 1MDB money for his charity, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, from his former close associate Jho Low, the controversial Malaysian businessman at the heart of the scandal.


Decades-long megadrought may hit US Southwest, drying it to the bone

Folsom Lake reservoir
© Mark Ralston / AFP
Boat docks sit empty on dry land, as Folsom Lake reservoir near Sacramento stands at only 18 percent capacity, as the severe drought continues in California on September 17, 2015.
The American Southwest has surely seen some drought, but things may turn sour, or should we say 'even drier'? Scientists from Cornell University say there's a high chance that a decades-long 'megadrought' is coming by the end of this century.

The scientists, led by atmospheric researcher Toby Ault, have just published their findings in Science Advances journal.

It should be noted that 'megadrought' isn't just a scary-sounding word, it is an existing term: an extreme, bone-dry time that can last for over 35 years.

"In some ways, it's as simple as less rainfall and hotter weather," Ault says as quoted by Popular Mechanics. "Basically the risk of a megadrought depends critically on the balance of soil moisture at the soil's surface, and that's a tug-of-war between evaporation from hotter weather and the supply of moisture through precipitation."

The study suggests that the production of greenhouse gases, if carried on at the current rate, could cause the megadrought, and the chances are very high, 70 to 99 percent - which makes it "virtually certain," in the scientists' words.

Comment: Man made global warming didn't cause the megadrought in the 16th century, and it's not going to be the cause of a future one. Any solutions involving that bogus claim are useless. This is not to say that such kinds of megadroughts are not on the way. They very well may be, but the earth changes we are seeing are not so black and white as some pseudo-climate scientists would like them to be.